Photo: James Bombales
The Ontario government is mulling changes to provincial real estate rules, and it could result in homebuyers having increased access to information during a bidding war.
Currently, when multiple offers are made on a property, the broker representing the seller is only allowed to reveal the number of bids. But the Ford government is considering making competing prices available to bidders as well.
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The Ontario Real Estate Association has already lauded the province’s decision to review the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, last updated 16 years ago.
But Chris Borkowski, a Toronto realtor, has mixed feelings about legislating price transparency.
“One side of me thinks it’s good: as a consumer, as an agent, [it] makes my life easier,” Borkowski tells Livabl. “But,” he continues, “as a real estate seller, is it really the best idea?”
Borkowski suggests if sellers are forced to show each bidder all the offers they have received, right down to the dollar amount, it may lead to more verbal deals and private transactions. Either way, he says sellers would find a way around the legislation.
“It’s just another thing that’s going to lock down the market a little bit more and make it harder to sell and harder to buy and create more trouble in the long run, I think,” Borkowski adds.
He also notes that the Toronto area market has cooled from a major, multi-year price run-up, and that bidding wars are less common these days.
Before releasing any changes to the act, the province has launched an online survey as part of a consultation process. The deadline to participate is March 15th.
The announcement of possible changes to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act comes after another industry shakeup. This past August, the Supreme Court put to rest a lengthy legal battle over the release of previous selling prices when it said it would not hear the Toronto Real Estate Board’s appeal.
Since 2011, the board had been embroiled in a legal battle with the Competition Bureau, the Canadian agency that argued keeping data, such as what a home sold for in the past, stood in the way of healthy competition.